• Not to worry

    by  • 2 December, 2004 • Uncategorized • 2 Comments

    Yes, yes, we are still doing fine. We had a beautiful summer this year. The weather was absolutely fantastic and we practically went “camping” every weekend at some remote beach in the south of the provinces of Iraklio and Rethymno. We covered the whole stretch from Tertsá, west of Ierapetra, to Rodákino, just short of entering the province of Chaniá. Camping, in our case, means packing our sleeping bags and some spare clothes, driving south, swimming and sunbathing all day long, finding a nice restaurant, and stretching out under the stars for the night, sometimes in our sleeping bags, most of the time just on them. Those days are gone now.

    When the weather starts changing and the tourists have gone home, life changes for most of the inhabitants of this island. It takes on a more leasurely pace, it’s more intimate. At the end of October many a shop keeper closes up for the winter in the streets where I pass each day, wishing each other (and me occasionally) a “fine winter” (ignoring the 30 something degrees sunshine). For those people there are only 2 seasons, summer and winter. Summer is when the tourists arrive, winter is when they stay away. For them the time has come to attend to their “other businesses”. For harvesting the olives it’s too early but the groves need to be tidied up, wine making has passed already usually, but the rakí needs to be distilled yet, exactly the right kind of chore after an exhausting summer. It is done in a special made boiler called “kazani”. The distillation of this Cretan form of Grappa, takes place in one or two licensed distilleries that each village has, also called “kazanis”. The distillation itself is a huge festival, equally called “kazani”, a party with musicians, with plenty of food, meat, fish, fruit etc. The whole village gathers for it. We have been invited to one such “kazani”. Let’s hope we’ll survive.

    At the end of November the young grass and weeds start sprouting under the trees again. The barren grounds of the olive groves are now covered with a soft green carpet which just begs to jump in and roll in it. Now is also the time for the women of the villages to take off to the mountains to gather various kinds of wild herbs that they cook more or less like you would cook spinach. It’s called “chórta” or “ágrochorta” and it is absolutely the most tasteful vegetable you can order with your meal. It is usually eaten luke warm and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice. Last year we participated in a guided chorta gathering expedition. Also the Cretans are quickly losing the knowledge that was previously passed on from generation to generation about what was and what wasn’t edible in nature. Fortunately there are enough people left who can still transfer this knowledge to whoever shows an interest. I’m afraid we didn’t learn much though, as our Greek language skill were then even more underdeveloped than they are now.

    Speaking about Greek language, I have been following Greek classes at the university here for the last two months. It’s a short crash course ending in February. The massive amount of homework we get twice a week is one of the reasons I haven’t been faithfully blogging lately (before that I had the summer as an excuse, of course). I have to study for at least 3 hours every day to keep up with the pace. Yvonne will start beginners level in February, I will then probably do this intermediate level once again, until May. Yvonne couldn’t join me for this semester as she was too preoccupied with the international choir that she has become a member of and with her starring in a really hilarious comedy that is going to be a blockbuster on International Woman’s Day, on March 8. If you’re in the neighbourhood, I still have tickets, but you’ll have to be quick, once word gets around…

    Let’s see, what else is new? Ah yes, there is snow now on the top of the highest mountain, the Psiloritis, since a week or so. We’ve had a few cold days, especially last weekend when the heating once more broke down. In general though, and certainly this week, we still get enough of sunshine to walk around in T-shirt during the warmest hours of the day, around 1 o’clock or so.

    Next week is going to be my last week of work before my annual vacation. Yvonne takes 2 weeks of vaction too. We will be heading for Belgium and Holland around the 21-22nd of December for 8 or 9 days. For the Day of Saint Innocents (dag van de Onnozele Kinderen) we appropriately enough plan on spending the evening in Taverna Alkahof, better known as “de Griek in Briegden”, just so you know… wink, wink…

    2 Responses to Not to worry

    1. abraham
      16 December, 2004 at 14:00

      Onnozele,

      Op de dag v/d onnozele is Alkahof gesloten.

      Dat was 2 j geleden zo en nu is dat nog zo!
      Maandag en dinsdag is het gesloten!
      Verander dat maar vlug op de site anders staan ze 28 dec. allemaal bij Niko.

    2. luc
      16 December, 2004 at 14:28

      Hei, Abraham, doe eens een “reload” van de pagina (verdorie had ik daar toch een knoert van een freudiaanse tikfout gemaakt, een “v” in plaats van een “p”!). Ben ik snel of ben ik snel?

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